Linguistic and nonlinguistic organization of literary narratives. Authors of literary narratives of different ages guide readers/recipients to process the unfolding of stories by means of various techniques. As for texts to be read, linguistic cues include e.g. frame shifts, discourse markers, and “dialogic syntax” (Du Bois 2014). Nonlinguistic cues include e.g. paragraphing, punctuation marks, and space settings on paper. Texts to be performed display a richer spectrum of clues, the nonlinguistic part being a crucial component. If literary narratives are set to music, the range of clues is even broader. This project investigates into the complex relationship between linguistic and nonlinguistic authorial strategies that suggest a fundamentally multimodal articulation of literary narratives.
Compression in Homeric Epic. This project stems from a research stay at the University of Berkeley, Department of Linguistics (2015). The aim is to argue for a cognitive explanation of how some passages of the Iliad and the Odyssey can be interpreted as referring to the narration of two different episodes at the same time. The core idea of the argument is that of cognitive compression (Fauconnier and Turner 2000; Turner 2006).
Viewpoint blends. On the subjective Homeric narrator. This project relates to a forthcoming volume (Telling Homer, Telling In Homer, edited by J. Ready and C. Tsagalis), offering new perspectives on the performers of the Homeric Epic. In my contribution I return to Irene de Jong’s observation that the Homeric Narrator is also a focalizer (1998/2004), and on Deborah Beck’s study of free indirect discourse in Homer (2012). I expand on the respective claims by investigating into the linguistics of lines where the viewpoint of the primary narrator and that of a character blend. The work proposes a cognitive approach to free indirect discourse, and offers further evidence against the dogma of Homeric objectivity.
- Discourse and Performance in an Epic Song: A Study of Alija Fjuljanin’s “Halil Hrnjičić and Miloš the Highwayman” (Milman Parry Collection n. 662): This project developed out of a joint research conducted by one of the curators of the Milman Parry Collection at Harvard, and myself. It is a first-of-its-kind exploration of the interaction between language and music in the special communicative environment of oral epic song. Applying innovative methods of documentation and analysis to a tradition of epic songmaking that has long been considered the closest living analogue to the Homeric Iliad and Odyssey, this study presents findings that are of interest to linguists, folklorists, classicists, and scholars working with oral traditions of any kind. Through detailed examination of a Bosniac epic song recorded in 1934, the work reveals that para-linguistic and extra-linguistic features of the performance not normally taken into account (such as melodic or rhythmic variation and vocal timbre) actually play a fundamental role in the dynamic process whereby the singer communicates his meaning to the audience.
- Pragmatic functions and meanings of ancient Greek particles. This is another joint project. As of August 2015, the three research members of an Emmy-Noether group that I coordinate are working on an online pre-print publication. This co-authored publication gathers the results of investigations carried out at the Classics department of the University of Heidelberg (2010-2014, plus a 6-month extension in 2015), through a grant of the DFG. Particles are mostly monosyllabic words that are extremely frequent in ancient Greek language; they not always have a specific syntactic role, and are still underdiscussed. We contribute studies in their pragmatic meanings and their discourse functions across different literary genres. We suggest a number of ways of making sense of them by means of different theoretical tools as well as readings in situ. The work consists of five volumes. The first four volumes will appear first ( Foundations; II. Particle use in Homer and Pindar; III. Particle use in Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes; IV. Particle use in Herodotus and Thucydides); the fifth will follow (V. The Online Repository of Particle Studies—an online resource containing summaries of five hundred years of scholarship on a selection of the most frequent particles).
- Dialogic Syntax in Thucydides. The idea of Dialogic Syntax (Du Bois 2014) concerns mechanisms of resonance and recurrence that complement classical syntax. The first experiments I made on Dialogic Syntax in two masterpieces of ancient Greek historiography illuminate how we actually process prose sentences by combining classical syntax, cognitive constraints, and textual design above the sentence level. A systematic application of this concept to the reading on ancient Greek prose can have a considerable impact also on language teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Depiction and performativity in early Greek poetry. In this project I apply the basic ideas of Eve Sweetser’s seminal article “Blended Spaces and Performativity” (2000) to the linguistic surface and the nonlinguistic dimensions of early Greek epic and lyric. The aim is to show that what seems to be “just” depicted in both genres (“X happened”) is actually made happen or re-happen; that is to say, the performance not only represents space, but it also affects the represented space. This point harmonizes with the idea that ritual settings are prerequisites for lyric and epic performances in the archaic and classical Greek culture.